Viborg is one of the oldest towns in Denmark.The original name was Vibjerg (Vvibuiærgh in Valdemar Sejrs Jordebog from 1231), which means "the hills with the shrine". It was in prehistoric time a sacred cultplace, where the ancient Nordic gods were worshipped. The sacred place was called a "Vi", which explains the name Viborg. The settlement consisted of spread farms up till year 1000, after which properties were being outparcelled along the road, which today is Store Sct Peders Stræde (mid-town). From here was a connection road across the lakes to Asmild. In the Viking period a larger town emerged gradually - and it was through centuries the main town of Jutland and a political power center. Viborg got its municipal rights in 1150. The old trade and pilgrim road to Europe Hærvejen went out from here.Viborg lies upon a hillside, falling steeply into a valley along the eastern part of town. The valley is filled by the lakes Nørresø and Søndersø,the waterstreams leading to the lakes are surrounded by large meadow areas. The long lakes form a clear border of the town. The western part of Viborg is today an area with villas stretching far out into the countryside. The visible center of Viborg is still the cathedral with two towers, one of the largest churches built in granite ashlars.
Things went quickly for the city in the middle of Jutland. Tradesmen and craftsmen settled here, where the trade- and pilgrim road Hærvejen from the south met the country roads from north, west and east. Most important was that the Jutland chieftains gathered here on a regular basis to counsel together upon the Thing about common affairs and to celebrate the Danish kings. A celebration of the king told who had to succeed the king when he died. The first celebration in 1027 was about Hardicanute, who was Danish king from 1035-1042. The tradition went on until 1655 where Christian V. was celebrated at the Thing in Viborg.
Where the town leads out between the lakes, king Erik Menved let build Borgvold in 1313 in order to break the wellknown obstinacy of the Jutlanders. Here is a castle bank and a park today. The Jutlanders in the northern section of Jutland had after a counsel at the Thing in Viborg rebelled against the king's new tax notices, but they were suppressed by the king and his German mercenaries.
The Thing (Landsting) in Viborg was in the Middle Ages a Thing for the whole country. The Thing was abolished in 1805. Viborg was also a religious center. The town became bishopric in 1065, and the foundation stone of the cathedral was laid by bishop Eskil about 1130. During the Middle Ages were built three monasteries and a nunnery in Asmild, 12 parish churches and some roadside chapels.
Maybe it was the wealth of the number of churches and klosters which provoced the first Danish rebellion in Viborg against the papal power. In 1525 a Johanitter monk Hans Tausen started to preach Luther's teach in Viborg, and when he was dispelled of his order, king Frederik I appointed him his chaplain.The king allowed in 1529 the civilians in Viborg to break down all the churches and chapels, which the town was not able to maintain. This meant direct cash to the Crown. The king also "took care" of the church silver. In 1529-30 the klosters were abandoned too, and the monks were driven out. The rebellious Lutheranian citizens seized the cathedral in 1530.
The 1500s brought progress, but in the 1600s and the 1700s the town was hit by recession, fires and wars. The town burnt both in 1567, 1615, 1667 and 1726, the last fire was especially a catastrophe. Half the city burnt down and for many years a big part of the town were nothing but black ruins. From the late 1700s the town had an important period of expansion and became what is is today: a city of institutions. It grew into a stylish town of officials. Some found it snobby. The Danish writer Peer Hultberg, the son of a judge, grew up in Viborg - he wrote a novel where he delivered an utmost corrosive image of the citizens, who are described as the victims of their own strict consciousness.
Most of the oldest Viborg houses were built after the big fire in 1726. The present look of the Viborg cathedral is a result of an almost complete rebuild in 1864-76. From the original church is only kept the crypt and a small part of the apse. The cathedral in Lund (Skåne) was the role model of the present building. The artist Joakim Skovgaard decorated the church with frescoes in 1899.
The altarpiece from the beginning of the 1500s is in another Viborg church, (Søndre Sogn) - it is called the masterpiece among the carved Netherland altarpieces in Denmark. East of the lakes is the old Asmild kloster, the oldest section of a nunnery built around 1100. It was in Asmild church king Erik Emune let bishop Eskil of Viborg kill in front of the altar during mass.
Because of its central situation and the many roads leading to Viborg the city has a large trade and a diversified industry. First of all it is an important administration- and institution town with courts, state districts, a large hospital and nurse school, media schools, teacher seminary, trade school, domestic arts school, cathedral school and a district gymnasium. North of Viborg is the beautiful scenery of Hjarbæk fjord, south of Viborg the deep Hald lake with old oak- and beech woods, Dollerup bakker with heather hills. The historic murder place Finderup lade does not exist anymore, but the historic village lies west of the forests. King Erik Klipping was killed here on Sct. Cecilia-night, 22 November in 1286. He is buried in Viborg cathedral.
Tourist sailing: a boat Margrethe I sails in the summer season on the lakes from where is a magnificent view to the city. City Museum in a historistic styled and richly decorated building; the Skovgård Museum with art exhibitions in the old Baroque town hall; "Brænderiet" which is art and culture center with alternate art exhibitions . In the Biblical gardens is opportunity to study the plants mentioned in the Bible; a garden called "Pilehaven" where the old Johannitterkloster was placed, until it was broken down in 1578. A basket weaver has formed the hedges, benches and huts in the park from willow and maple branches. "Latinerhaven", a labyrinthic park, with a fountain " Løvebrønden" (Lion's well), the park has a memorial for the ornitologist H.Chr. Mortensen, called Fuglemortensen (Bird Mortensen); he put Viborg on the map when he in 1899 put the ringing of birds in system. From the Gråbrødrekloster (Fransiscan kloster) in 1236 is little kept, but the ground plan of the kloster is marked by beech hedges.
photo Viborg 2006/2010/2011: grethe bachmann